To my fellow fitness friends:
We, as a health community, fit family, or whatever you’d like to deem us, spend a lot of time applauding amazing feats. We celebrate everything from heavy weightlifting personal records to fast mile times to intricate yoga holds. However, we often overlook the fitness community’s most important asset: the beginner.
You’re likely at some point in your “fitness journey” if you’re reading this. Maybe you’re a seasoned athlete, or a promising powerlifter. Maybe you can run a 5-minute mile or have bikini-bodied your way to a gold medal in a bodybuilding competition.
On the other hand, it could be that you’re just getting started, or you’re just getting back into the swing of things. You are the beginner.
But guess what?
We were all a beginner at some point or another.
To the seasoned health veterans:
The fitness community is excessively guilty of indulging in narcissism, and quite frankly, it’s eating away at the fabric that holds us together: grit, effort, tenacity, empowerment, and self-love. We spend all this time chasing the next best thing and inevitably forget why we started in the first place. We forget who we were when we began. I don’t sit here pointing a finger, judging you. You should be proud of how far you’ve come.
But, I don’t believe its irrational to ask you to pair pride with compassion, and competitiveness with care. You can be your very best without silently wishing to look someone else, or becoming hyper-competitive. Tell the new gym-goer you like her leggings and give her substantial, patient advice instead of quietly rolling your eyes at her squat form. You were once new and confused, so think about the compassion you would have liked to receive when you were first starting.
To the beginner:
I’d like to let you know a few things-
- I’m proud of you.
- You’re a rockstar.
- Hang in there.
I’d give you a hug if I could. I recognize your struggle and understand your hopes. You’re here to make a change, and a change WILL come. I can promise you that. However, change is two-fold: it’s a process, and it’s an experience. The process part requires time, effort, and consistency. It requires rainy long runs and occasional impromptu in-home workouts. There will be days when motivation isn’t at its peak. Don’t be discouraged by someone else’s progress, as each and every journey is a bit different. Things won’t always be easy, but I can assure you that they’re worth it.
You can do it. I know you have it in you.
As for the experience, I believe this may be even more important than the process. I implore you to value this experience. You won’t appreciate the end product if you can’t find joy in the journey. Celebrate a tiny bicep pump, or your first deadlift. Take pride in finally catching the beat in spin class, or holding your yoga pose for five more seconds.
Finally, please keep your goals in line. Don’t you dare begin to think that your success is defined by one less-than-perfect day, or if you have the elusive thigh-gap or not. Just like those seasoned vets, your goal should be to become the best version of you that you can be – the happiest, most holistically healthy version (mind, body, and soul).
We must support each other. The ins and outs of health can be tricky to navigate, and falling into self-destructive extremes is a possibility. But if we celebrate the beginner, and lift each other up every step of the way, we can slowly but surely bring light to the toughest of self-love situations, and eventually become the most balanced, positive, and supportive community of fitness fiends I know we can be.